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MasterCard Wants To Power Payments In Robots

Financial services giant MasterCard is bringing payments to robots. The company said Tuesday that its digital wallet, MasterPass, is being integrated into Pepper, the humanoid robot developed by SoftBank and Aldebaran Robotics, so that robots can accept digital payments.

MasterCard’s integration into Pepper will first be done by a number of Pizza Hut restaurants in Asia that will use the robots to take orders. Softbank initially debuted plans for Pepper in 2015, predicting it will be “a companion for the elderly, a teacher of schoolchildren and an assistant in retail shops and offices.” Pepper, which Softbank claims to understand emotions, costs $1,600, along with monthly fees and insurance costs.

According to MasterCard, Pizza Hut customers will be able to pay Pepper by connecting their MasterCard app and then tapping the Pepper icon within the app. Users can also connect by scanning a QR code on the tablet that the robot holds.

After connecting with MasterCard, Pepper will give customers personalized recommendations based on their past orders, and provide additional information about food. After the meal is over, Pepper will user the customer’s card in their MasterPass wallet to pay for the meal.

The idea of having a robot in restaurants is part of Pizza Hut’s “digital transofrmation” and could make waiting time for efficient, explained Vipul Chawla, managingrDirector of Pizza Hut Restaurants Asia.

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“We’re trying to be at forefront of the explosion of connected devices,” explained Betty DeVita, MasterCard’s chief commercial officer. “It’s going to be yet another way for consumers to connect with the MasterCard brand.”

This isn’t the first time MasterCard is trying to extend its payments technology beyond just mobile phones. MasterCard has been trying to integrate with a number of wearable devices such as smart watches and Internet connected products. Earlier this year, for example, MasterCard teamed up with Samsung to let people buy groceries directly from their fridge. The company has also partnered with General Motors to add the ability to pay for items in a store within a car key fob.

MasterCard said that Pepper would arrive in Pizza Hut stores in Asia in late 2016. No word yet about Pepper’s U.S. arrival at the chain.